Airbus Helicopters saw net order intake rise by 73% in the three months to 31 March, although the bulk of the increase, to 104 units, was accounted for by commitments for a total of 51 UH-72A Lakotas for the US Army.

In the same period last year, the France-headquartered manufacturer recorded 60 net orders.

Also included in this year's first-quarter total are 10 orders for the developmental H160 medium-twin, including a framework deal with launch operator Babcock.

Airbus Helicopters has not previously disclosed the size of the initial order from UK-headquartered Babcock, but the only other declared commitment for the type in the first quarter was a four-unit deal with a US operator.

Although rival Leonardo has yet to reveal its first-quarter performance, announced orders for the AW139, the H160's chief in-service competitor, are understood to be at a similar level.

Speaking on a 27 April earnings call, group chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm said Airbus Helicopters had performed well despite the "soft civil and parapublic market".

Revenue for the three-month period was €961 million, down 18% on the €1.17 billion recorded a year earlier, partly driven by the 2017 divestment of maintenance provider Vector Aerospace.

The airframer’s backlog, at 744 units, was flat against last year's figure of 748 helicopters, although its value crept up by 1.6%, to €13.1 billion, from €12.9 billion in 2017.